Marcos: Fund misuse may be beyond PDAF

MANILA, Philippines – Could the theft of taxpayers’ money be wider than the multi-billion-peso pork barrel scam?

Sen Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr raised this possibility on Tuesday, September 10, when he presented additional findings of his office's internal audit of his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) releases.

State audit and media reports showed that Marcos supposedly endorsed the release of P100 million of his PDAF to 4 dubious NGOs through the National Livelihood Development Corporation (NLDC).

These were: Ginintuang Alay sa Magsasaka Foundation Inc (P5 million), Agricultura sa Magbubukid Foundation Inc (P25 million), Kaupdanan para sa Mangungugma Foundation Inc (P25 million), and Agri and Economic Program for Farmers Foundation Inc (P45 million).

Some of these NGOs are linked to the alleged mastermind in the pork barrel scam, Janet Lim-Napoles. In the scam, the lawmakers allegedly allowed their development funds to be transferred to fake NGOs in exchange for kickbacks.

It turned out, the amounts were charged not against his PDAF but against the Disbursement Acceleration Plan (DAP) that was credited to his office but which he had not been informed of, Marcos said in a press briefing.

“The DAP is sourced from the savings of the government that it wants to use before the end of the year so it is not reverted to the general fund. Apparently, this money came from there, but they did not tell me I had this allocation,” Marcos said.

He said the DAP comes from the executive branch.

I did not know there was P100 million there. Hindi ko alam na may pondong ganyan,” he said referring to the DAP. (I don’t know there was such fund.)

Marcos reiterated that he did not authorize the release of the funds, and the signatures on documents that the Commission on Audit (COA) gathered were forged.

The senator said the first time he found out about the fund misuse was when the COA gave his office the documents last week, and he started to do an internal investigation.

He said it was not possible for him to authorize the release of the funds because the amounts were too big.

“I will not give funds that big. I want to help many areas so [my fund releases] average P300,000 to P3 million, sometimes P5 million. I said let’s make it a matter of policy [to release small amounts] so we are able to give to many beneficiaries. That’s why when I saw this, I said this is impossible. P45 million for one place?”

He added: “Hindi ko alam kung anong pera ito, anong pinanggalingang pondo. Alam ko lang ginawan nila ng MOA at ginamit ang pera. 'Di ko gagawin 'yun eh. Isipin mo 45 million ilalagay sa LGU eh ang request sa akin 300 sa isang buwan.”

(I don’t know what money this is, where it came from. All I know is they made a Memorandum of Agreement and used the money. I won’t do that. Imagine, P45 million for one LGU when I get 300 requests per month.)

Asked how the budget department could have released the money without his knowledge, Marcos said: “We don’t know yet. That’s why we’re trying to find out: how this happened, who is involved, how this was released without any notice to me and to my office.”

Asking NBI handwriting experts’ help

Marcos insisted that his and his staff’s signatures were faked. He said he was willing to prove this, but COA and other agencies first have to give his office access to the original copies of the documents.

He said it was possible the signatures were “scanned.”

“We asked the National Bureau of Investigation, their handwriting experts. They said they are ready to help but they need to confirm the signatures with the original copy. It can’t be a photocopy,” Marcos said.

Marcos said “everything” about the documents the COA gave him was fake: from the tax identification number to the passport numbers indicated in the documents.

“It was the first time we saw the Memorandum of Agreement. Our office has no records. I never saw this until it was sent by COA. It was all manufactured by somebody else. It did not come from our office.”

‘I don’t know Janet Napoles’

For the first time, Marcos also commented about his relations with Napoles.

“I don’t know Napoles. I never met her,” Marcos said.

Even if he was adamant about his findings, Marcos said he will not join the Senate blue ribbon committee probe into the pork barrel scam.

“I’m still named, so the proper thing to do is to recuse myself. How will I investigate myself?”

What if he will be among the lawmakers who will reportedly face charges this week?

“I will show them. It is clear this is all forged.” – Rappler.com